Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thinking Outside of the Box - Doh! I Meant "Inside"

We were headed to a halloween party at our church and, unlike some of you perfect parents out there, I haven't purchased the pieces for the kids' "real" costumes, yet. Since Peanut and Bean have enough costumes to transform every child within a two mile radius, I felt confident that they would find something fantastic in the Ikea bins, upstairs.

Before I continue, let me mention that after a lifetime of being involved in theater - I have a true love for costumes. Seeing people turned into a plant, animal, or mythical creature is akin to some kind of crazy magic. I, myself, have been hired to design and/or costume children's theater productions for many years (okay- OKAY! Those who really know me will want me to mention-in full disclosure- that a lot of those costumes were sewn with a glue gun. In all fairness, it's really hard to sew foam!).

MacG and I were sitting on the couch, when we heard, "We're ready for the costume party!" My daughter's sweet little munchkin voice was proceeded by her appearance, as Elphaba - that's the Wicked Witch of the West, for those of you who haven't been acquainted with the musical, "Wicked".

"You have to paint me green!" She cackled. I agreed.

Then came Bean. We could hear him thumping uncertainly down the stairs and craned our necks to see what fabulous character he had chosen.

My son had decided to attend the church costume party, as a Cardboard Box.

Peanut had "designed" the getup. It had a large box with armholes for the suit and a smaller box with eyeholes for the mask. She had drawn a mustache on the front of it.

A Cardboard Box?!

I am ashamed to admit the next part:

I said, "Wow, guys. Really...uh...creative. You couldn't find a real costume to wear?"

*Ouch* I feel awful for having said that. Thank goodness Peanut responded with:

"This IS a real costume, Mom. I worked really hard on it." Bean nodded his square head.

Well, okay, then.

I painted Peanut's face (and the inside of her ears and back of her neck: it had to be right. It was really hard to remove.) green and off we went. My children had been thinking outside of the box, while creating this recycled facade. My son was now, literally, thinking inside of the box - and I had to deliver him to the party in his new, square state.

Bean was disturbed that people kept mistaking him for a robot. "I. AmaBOX!" He would correct them.

After some spooky fizzy punch and carnival games, came the costume parade. Ian donned his mask - it's pretty difficult walking around with a box on your head - and joined the circle.

The kids walked around in circles and a microphone voice called, "And now, the judges will tell you what they've decided."

You mean the costumes were being judged? *Sigh*

"For funniest costume: The Box!"

Bean went to accept his award and I was flooded with pride (and guilt for having tried to talk him out of wearing it). Peanut spent the remainder of the evening bitterly telling anyone who would listen, that the concept was hers, dammit (all right, she didn't say "dammit" - she's only eight - but you could hear it in her voice)! Bean agreed to share the chocolate bar that he had won and all was well.

This was my latest lesson on not trying to stop my kids from being creative and unique. Sometimes it's a hard lesson to learn...

Luckily, my children are very persistent and persuasive.

And creative and unique.

Friday, October 15, 2010

An Hour Drive That Lasted Three and a Half Hours. Three Hours and Forty-Two Minutes, to be Exact

Have I ever told you that I have a paralyzing fear of heights?

I'm not talking about "climbing up the ladder" heights. I'm talking about "driving on a on-way dirt road looking over the ocean/a steep canyon/a severe drop into sharp conifer trees" heights. Whenever I know that there is going to be a road like that in my future over which I absolutely must travel, I make MacG drive. I close my eyes, hold onto the door handle with a force that turns my knuckles a bluish white, and say really bad words under my breath. I don't open my eyes until he tells me we've survived. Unfortunately, we live in a state, which is home to many, many beautiful mountains and we find ourselves traveling on these awful, quaint roads too often for my liking.

I got to drive myself across three such roads, this week. Well, okay, two such roads: I was hopelessly lost and went over one of them twice.

Peanut (she's eight) was going on a school camping trip to one of our state parks, with two 3rd/4th grade classes. Yes, that's forty-seven eight through ten year-olds. I volunteered to go with them. I was in charge of all the food for the kids and around fifteen adults - and I had forgotten the peanut butter. I figured that the odds of someone in this particular group needing peanut butter for making their lunch sandwich the following day was pretty high, so I stopped at the grocery store on the way out of town. I would only be ten or fifteen minutes behind the rest of the caravan, I figured.

Big mistake.

Really big.

I should have brought another parent with me to navigate, but every seat in my little (totally not-a-mom) car was completely filled with food. Along with my duffel bag, the front seat had several condiments lined across the seat and piled up on the floor. Do you know how much ketchup this age group eats? The back seat was covered with twelve watermelons. And they were heavy! I could feel my car accelerating quite a bit slower than usual. The trunk looked like a fruit cart: 90+ Gala apples, three bags of oranges, enough grapes to feed... well around 70 people. There wasn't any room in that car for someone to hold the map. Barely enough room for the map!

So I ended up on the wrong side of the coast. On a one-lane, dirt road. Overlooking the ocean. Twice.

The drive started out quite wonderfully: I had moon roof open, windows down all around. I had my favorite teen vampire soundtrack on superloud. There was a Cherry Coke Zero in my drink holder. Since I don't normally go on solo road trips, I was relishing the breeze and the music.

I had used an online map service, which had given me the direction to travel up the coast, find this nightmarish road and turn left onto a street - which hasn't existed for around 40 years. Apparently, it would have brought me into the back entrance to my destination. Forty. Years. Ago.

I had become desperate enough to ask an old man on a motorcycle for some guidance. He had a giant handlebar mustache, which bounced when he said, "I don't know what- in- the- hell you are talking about. I've lived here for half of my life and I've never heard of that road." He was yelling through my window: "You are at least fifty miles away from where you want to be."

Since I was in charge of cooking and it was almost time for our little campers to eat dinner - I began to panic. Just a little. As I headed back down the highway, I noticed that the fog was closing in on my little silver car, making it look like I was driving on a thoroughfare in the middle of the ocean. It was so awesome.

You realize that I'm being facetious, right?

I was sick to death of teen vampire music, at this point. I had listened to all three movies (don't hate) and I was done. My own racing heart accompanied the raucous bouncing of melons on the backseat, setting a rhythm for my trek across the coast.

I stopped at the first McDonald's that I could find and bought a giant Coke, so I didn't feel like a dork being there. But not one person who worked there "ever knew that we even had state parks". They referred me to an





who had a crumb of something McFried on his lip. He told me to goheregothereandturnleft (only much slower than that). It turns out that he really meant to turn right, because when I next stopped at Burger King (I interrupted a domestic dispute to ask for directions) they sent sent me back the way I came. I bought a cup of coffee before I left.

On my way out the door, a much younger motorcyclist than the first one said, "Listen. I'll tell you how you can get where you're going. For real, this time." And he did.

I made it to our campsite by 5:01pm. The school camping schedule had stated that we would begin to cook at five. "You're late!" One of the kids said, beginning to unload the watermelons.

He had no idea...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tenth Anniversary of the Tasty Titanic

My wedding cake was ugly.

It wasn't tacky or cutesy, or anything like that - the caterer dropped a case of soda on the "real" one on the morning of my Big Day, so they tried to make another one realquick and frosted it while it was still hot.

It looked sort of like the Titanic: Listing to the side, as if it had recently collided with a gnarly ice burg. The little bride and groom were up to their knees in white liquid sugar and roses looked like they were melting down the sides. It cost us hundreds of dollars, but my mom made sure that she got a refund.

When we arrived at the reception, my mother blocked my way to the door. The following conversation is the best recollection that my memory can serve:

MOM: Uhm, we have a problem. It's the cake. It's, well, you might have to see it for yourself...
ME/BRIDE: *GASP* What happened to it?
MOM: It...It looks like it is a little bit squashed, it-
ME/BRIDE: Squashed? What do you mean squashed?
MOM: They ruined the first one, so-
ME/BRIDE: You mean the ugly cake is the second cake?
MOM: Yes.

I looked at my new husband and decided that a sinking cake wasn't going to ruin our special day. We burst into laughter and my mom gave a huge sigh of relief. MacG and I made our grand entrance to "Groove is in the Heart" and we sailed by the disgraceful dessert as we crossed to our table.

Although it had the appearance of being slowly sucked into the Bermuda Triangle, and by the time we cut it it had turned from a three- tiered cake into a lumpy one-tiered cake, we had no option other than to serve it to our two- hundred- and- some- odd guests.

It was delicious.

Life is like that sometimes, isn't it? My mother once told me this: "Life is not beautiful. You have to make it beautiful." I believe her. How many times have things gone terribly wrong, but the way you handled the situation made it even better than it could have been, otherwise? It happens to me all the time... Some of my favorite trips, friends, and purchases have become my most beloved, due to some sort of unplanned calamity.

We had a fantastic reception. It was ten years ago, this month. Looking back, I wouldn't have changed a thing - except that some of the people that I now hold near and dear would have been there. But, at the time I didn't know that they existed. I guess you can't have everything.

However: You can have your ugly cake.

And you can eat it, too.

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